England in India / Features

India v England, 1st ODI, Delhi

Harbhajan gets his groove back

The pitch was affording of assistance to the spinners, but Harbhajan Singh still had to pitch them at the right areas to fox the batsmen, and that he did superbly

On the Ball with S Rajesh

March 28, 2006

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The pitch was affording of assistance to the spinners, but Harbhajan Singh still had to pitch them at the right areas to fox the batsmen, and that he did superbly in a ten-over spell which turned the game around and gave India a dramatic win at Delhi. Six of his last ten ODIs against England had failed to fetch him a wicket, but here he was unstoppable: his 5 for 31 was his second consecutive five-for against England at home. In six games against them in India, Harbhajan's stats read an impressive 15 wickets at 15.47.

The key here was the line he maintained - 55 out of 60 deliveries he bowled pitched on or just outside off, a perfect line considering the turn the wicket was offering him. The line meant he had the batsmen in trouble both with the conventional offspinner and the doosra.

It also gave India the opportunity to win after scoring just 203, the lowest score that they have successfully defended against England, beating their Lord's total in 2004 by a whisker - on that occasion they won after scoring 204.

England, on the other hand, continue to struggle while chasing what should be achievable targets in the subcontinent. In their last three run-chases - all of which have been unsuccessful, England have scored 188, 197, and 164, and on two of those occasions, the targets were 211 and 204, scores that should have been achieved.

The only saving grace for them was the bowling performance by Ian Blackwell, who bowled with excellent control to return figures of 1 for 24 in 10 overs. Only two spinners have returned more economical figures in a spell of nine or more overs against India in India - Tauseef Ahmed, the Pakistan offspinner, took 2 for 18 from 10 at Pune in 1987, while Mohammad Rafique, the Bangladesh left-arm spinner, had figures of 2 for 21 from 10 at Mumbai in 1998.

S Rajesh is stats editor of Cricinfo. For some of the stats he was helped by Arun Gopalakrishnan.

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S Rajesh Stats editor Every week the Numbers Game takes a look at the story behind the stats, with an original slant on facts and figures. The column is edited by S Rajesh, ESPNcricinfo's stats editor in Bangalore. He did an MBA in marketing, and then worked for a year in advertising, before deciding to chuck it in favour of a job which would combine the pleasures of watching cricket and writing about it. The intense office cricket matches were an added bonus.
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